No matter how carefully planned our macros are, or how tight are meal prep is, it’s a safe bet that eventually something will happen where forces out of our control cause us to make do with our food choices. This may be getting stuck at work because of snowstorm, a last minute date, a special event, or sometimes you just miss-log something and it’s too late to change your day.
None of these curve balls are a disaster for your diet and it’s up to you how it plays out.
We may not always be presented with the perfect option in these moments, but there is always one options that keeps us closer to our goals than another.
Being slightly over on occasion generally won’t set you back as long as it’s not a habit, but the issue arises when we fall back into an ‘all or nothing’ mentality. This mindset says “If I’m not going to hit my macros/track this meal or my drinks- I may as well go all out”. This is where we can run into trouble.
It’s easy to feel defeated when we’re not perfect but the truth is, trying your best rather than deciding to throw in the towel entirely can be a lot more effective than you think!
Let’s do some #macromath. All these numbers are theoretical and to illustrate the point, each person will have a different level or deficit, be at maintenance or slight surplus depending on their goals.
Example: You are in a 200 calorie deficit per day which gives a weekly deficit of 1400 calories
Option A: You are away for the weekend with your family and they want to go out for dinner unexpectedly. You have a good amount of protein left and not a lot of carbs but only a few grams of fat- you know that there is a good chance that anything you order will set you over your fat by about 5-10 grams but this is a rare occasion and you want to join your family. You order grilled shrimp and veggies, a diet soda and have a bite of your mom’s dessert. By the end of the night you go over about 15 carbs and 8 fat. This is not ideal but only amounts to an additional 132 calories. No sweat, you get back on track the next day and set a goal not to estimate for the rest of the week. You likely undid the deficit for that specific day but you still have 6 days to make the most of your progress!
Option B: You attend the same dinner and know that your macros won’t be perfect for the evening so why bother? You’re going to go over. You figure a glass of wine or two to start the night won’t really hurt since there is a bottle to share and order a burger but skip the side and dessert. Using an approximate calculation this would put you over by 1630 calories, which not only puts you way over your daily intake, it has effectively reversed the deficit for the last 8 days.
2x 6oz glasses of red wine tracked as carbs- 75g carbs (290 cal)
Chili's Hamburger 78f/104c/58p (1340 cal)
Working Against Gravity works with you to use precise tracking. But we also encourage and support you when being exact is not an option. It’s important to see past the specific numbers. Try to see "balanced" eating as a concept. Don't just focus on zeroing your numbers out on MyFitnessPal.
So, next time you are faced with an unplanned situation, remember - you don’t need an app to tell you what to eat, you have experience and knowledge that can guide your choices in these situations, so we encourage you to use it. These situations don’t need to be all or nothing.
What strategies do you use to stay on track when eating out?